the front cover to the Quick Reads book 'The Escape'

The Escape’ by Lynda La Plante is a true story about a man who tries to escape from prison. Read and listen to a short passage from the book and complete the interactive activities.


Task 1 - comprehension

Task 2 - vocabulary

Task 3 - summary


Unlike most of the inmates, Barry actually liked prison life and more than anything enjoyed the three meals a day. He had come from a very difficult family, and had been in and out of a series of foster homes. Social Services had often been involved because of his step-father’s drinking and violence. Barry’s first attempts to make friends with Colin were met with moody silences, but finally his easy manner and persistence paid off. He felt very sorry for Colin, who was heartbroken that he would miss the birth of his first child.

Colin wrote endless letters and called home whenever he could, but hearing Karen’s voice only made him feel worse. After a couple of weeks of watching his cellmate weep every night, Barry came up with an idea.

‘I’m new to the wing, right? Nobody really knows me, and I’ve never met any of the officers on the main gates.’

Colin shrugged, not at all interested, until Barry excitedly suggested the idea that he could, if they worked together, plan Colin’s escape. Interested and slightly bemused, Colin asked what the plan was.

 ‘It’s simple. All we do is switch identities!  You go in my place to the magistrates’ court in a couple of weeks and do a runner when you get there,’ Barry said.

At first, Colin thought it was the most stupid idea he had ever heard. Apart from having similar hair colour and being the same height, they didn’t even look that much alike. And doing a runner from court was why Colin got four years in the first place. However, desperate to be at the birth of his baby, he decided to listen to more details of Barry’s plan. The more the two of them discussed the escape, as farfetched as the idea was, the more it seemed as if it might work.



  • What do you think happens next?
  • Do you think Colin will escape?

If you would like to read more of this story you can order the book at:

or you can order it from your local library.

Quick Reads

Quick Reads have developed a huge range of short books that are really great if you don’t have much time to read:

‘If you are too busy for long books; want a quick read for the train, tube or bus; or think reading is difficult or dull, Quick Reads are for you.’

If you would like to find out more about Quick Reads and see their amazing range of books, go to:

Reading for pleasure in English will benefit you in many ways:

  • improve your vocabulary, introducing you to new words
  • develop your writing skills and teach you about grammar and spelling
  • increase your knowledge of the world
  • help you relax
  • inspire you with new ideas

Make time to read!